Research infrastructure in the social, behavioral and economic sciences is focus of newly restructured NSF program

The U.S. National Science Foundation plays a critical role in supporting research infrastructure across a wide range of scientific disciplines, from telescopes to field stations. But sometimes, research infrastructure takes less tangible or visible forms — things like large data repositories, long-running surveys or web-based research tools. The new Research Infrastructure in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Program (RISBS) supports critical research infrastructure in the social, behavioral and economic sciences and its creation is part of an effort to make this infrastructure more visible and draw attention to its importance.

The Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences has a deep history of supporting research infrastructure, including three long-running data collection projects that provide critical information about U.S. society:

  • The American National Election Study, which started in 1948 and has been funded by NSF since 1977, provides gold-standard data on voting, public opinion and political participation in U.S. national elections. 
  • The General Social Survey, a nationally representative interview survey of the U.S. adult population, collects data on a wide range of topics and has been funded by NSF since its inception in 1972. 
  • The Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a longitudinal survey of a nationally representative sample of U.S. families begun in 1968 (with NSF taking over most of its funding in 1980), collects data on a wide array of economic, social and health factors.

In addition to these projects, RISBS will support other projects that create computational tools and data to facilitate basic research in the social and behavioral sciences that can lead to improved health, prosperity and security. Prospective primary investigators are encouraged to contact the program directors listed on the RISBS webpage for more information.